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Molière blesses Philinte with a sharp sense of balance. Célimène may play society well, but Philinte respects this society. He is forgiving and he accepts that people are flawed. Of course, this makes Philinte a bit boring, but also makes him a nice contrast to Alceste. Philinte serves as an informal advisor to Alceste, suggesting that Alceste consider moderation in his dealings with others. Unfortunately, Alceste does not heed his friend's advice, and he continues to damage his social standings. Philinte is a selfless friend, offering himself to Éliante conditionally, allowing Alceste first rights to her. Philinte is also the only male figure in the play who does not compete for Célimène's adoration.
Ultimately, Molière rewards Philinte with the only successful relationship in the play. In the final scene, Philinte and Éliante share their feelings for one another and exit together. The playwright implies that modesty and restraint are the proper code of behavior. Such a code is foreign to Alceste and Célimène, both of whom are left unhappy and alone at the end of the play.
In some ways, Philinte is a narrator. Much of the action of the The Misanthrope, aside from his romance with Éliante, does not involve Philinte. He comments to Alceste and Éliante on the more volatile characters as they carry the story along. Philinte's temperament never really changes and his actions are never impulsive.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Misanthrope!